His "Wild Thing" a hit several times over, including indelible live performance by Jimi Hendrix
Started writing songs as young teenager, went on to record 23 solo albums
Chip Taylor is responsible for one of the most famous songs to come out of the 1960s—The Troggs’ 1966 hit “Wild Thing,” which was famously covered in 1967 by Jimi Hendrix. His other big hits include Merrilee Rush’s 1968 “Angel InThe Morning” (also covered by Juice Newton), The Hollies “I Can’t Let Go” (1966, also notably covered by Evie Sands and Linda Ronstadt) and Janis Joplin’s “Try (Just A Little Bit Harder)” (1969). His songs have also been recorded by such luminaries as Aretha Franklin, Dusty Springfield and Frank Sinatra, with Norway’s premier folk singer Paal Flaata recording an entire album of Taylor songs, Wait by the Fire, and taking it to his country’s Top 10 and a Norwegian Grammy nomination.
Taylor was born James Wesley Voight in Yonkers, N.Y., on March 21, 1940. His older brother is the Oscar-winning actor Jon Voight (Voight’s Oscar-winning daughter Angelina Jolie is Taylor’s niece), and a second older brother, Barry Voight, is an award-winning volcanologist and engineer in his own right. After a failed attempt as a professional golfer, Taylor commenced a career in music, writing songs by himself and with others including Brill Building session player Al Gorgoni—with whom he recorded in the duo Just Us and notched a hit in 1966 with “I Can't Grow Peaches on a Cherry Tree" with Billy Vera (they co-wrote “Storybook Children,” which Vera recorded with gospel singer Judy Clay in 1967 as the first major label interracial duo) and Jerry Ragovoy, with whom he wrote the Janis Joplin hit “Try (Just a Little Bit Harder).” Other artists covering Taylor songs have included Willie Nelson, Johnny Tillotson, Barbara Lewis, The Pozo Seco Singers, Jackie DeShannon, Lita Ford, American Breed, Lorraine Ellison, Bobby Fuller Four, Marshall Crenshaw, The Fleetwoods, Waylon Jennings, Bobby Bare, Emmylou Harris and Anne Murray.
Taylor has also maintained a successful recording career, after recording as Wes Voight for King Records in the late 1950s, and later as Chip Taylor for Warner Bros., Columbia and Capitol--taking a break in the mid-‘70s for a successful stint as a professional gambler (he specialized in blackjack and horse-racing). He appeared in the 1980 film Melvin and Howard before relaunching his music career three years later with singer/violinist Carrie Rodriguez, with whom he recorded and performed through much of the next decade. He also performed with other artists including Robbie Fulks, John Platania and Kendel Carson.
In 2007, Taylor launched his independent label Train Wreck Records, for which he recorded the 2011 Grammy-nominated autobiographical album Yonkers, NY. His 2011 children’s album Golden Kids Rules featured his three granddaughters.